London and Loch Ness at Christmas

Mar 27th, 2009, 07:27 PM
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London and Loch Ness at Christmas

I'm beginning to plan a solo trip around Christmas and might need a reality check.

I'm looking at a guided tour in Egypt or Spain until December 19ish, then to London and possibly Loch Ness until January 1 or 2. I was lucky enough to see Loch Ness in May and would love to go back to see it covered with ice and snow. Is there a reasonably easy way to get from London up to Inverness, and once there to see the Loch? I don't want to rent a car (me driving a stick is scary enough, doing it on the other side of the road is just a bad idea). I think I remember a B&B right across the highway, but I don't want to spend more than a day or so at the loch itself. How much would a taxi ride be from Inverness? If I could get to Inverness, take a taxi to a B&B at the loch for a day or two, taxi back to Inverness and back to London or home, I'd be thrilled.

Is heading up to see Loch Ness for a day or two at the end of December realistic or just a complete headache?

Also, I've heard that London is absolutely swarming with people right before Christmas. Are the tourist sites more packed than usual, or is that mainly the shopping areas?

Thanks for any help and ideas!
Iowa_Redhead is offline  
Mar 27th, 2009, 10:14 PM
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" see it covered with ice and snow" Sorry - won't happen. Loch Ness doesn't freeze over.

Are you sure you want to go to Inverness when the days are so very short (sunrise after 9:00 AM and sunset by about 3:30 PM?) and the weather likely miserable. From London, you can get to Inverness by train or plane -- but WHY??

Things in London and most of the UK shut down tighter than a drum for Christmas Eve through Boxing Day. Especially Christmas Day when there is virtually no transport.
janisj is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 01:24 AM
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It's not that daft an idea, if you made the trip to Scotland to coincide with Hogmanay (Scots term for New Years Eve). Many country hotels in the highlands do a Hogmanay package with sumptuous food, fireworks, pipers etc. Not necessarily everyone's cup of tea (or within everyone's budget), but more interesting IMO that sitting at home in front of the TV. I quickly googled this place on the shore of Loch Ness that does a Hogmanay package:- Probably many other hotels in the area do this too. Not sure about B&B's though, generally these close fo the winter.

Flights from London to Inverness around Hogmanay tend to fill up quickly as lots of Scottish "ex-pats" return to see family, so don't leave it too late to book.
Gordon_R is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 02:21 AM
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Hogmanay, yes. Christmas, no. Even then, don't expect to find much (anything?) to do other than eat, drink, and look at the weather.
Ackislander is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 04:54 AM
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I consider it a mission from God to try to deter people coming to London at Christmas. I live here and even I hate every last minute of it.

Once the whole sorry business is out of the way (ie 27th) it's a perfect time to visit as you will have the place to yourself (we all sit in front of the telly and drink solidly for two weeks, pausing only for the occasional game of Boggle with younger cousins).

But the run-up to Christmas in london is a pit of hell that would make Dante blanch.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 06:41 AM
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You can fly or (my choice) take the train to Inverness. You will easily get a bus down the loch to the location of your choice, without the need to use a cab.

It is positively likely that the ground will be snow covered. We have done New Year in the Highlands every year but 2 for the last 27, and we have nearly always had snow.

Ice on Loch Ness is not likely. We have stayed on smaller lochs- Lochindorb in particular- which froze over.

The other advice you have been given is correct. I think there's little worse than being on your own on Hogmanay in Scotland so book yourself into somewhere with activities.

Loch Ness would not be my 1st choice I have to say, but if it's yours have a look at thisbr />

For accommodation, I wouldn't touch the Loch Ness Lodge with a bargepole. Avoid anywhere that takes coach tours
sheila is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 08:08 AM
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Sheila - huh??? coach tours??? I see no reference to that on their website, it looks far too upmarket and small for that. I've no personal experience of (or interest in) the Loch Ness Lodge, and Loch Ness wouldn't be my choice for Hogmanay location either, but it does give an example of what's on offer at probably hundreds of country hotels in the Highlands.
Gordon_R is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 08:26 AM
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I'm sorry, my posting was ambiguous. I have recently had a bad experience with them professionally and it is for that reason I would not go near them.

The two sentences were meant to be read separately not together. There are a lot of dire coachy places around Drumnadrochit
sheila is offline  
Mar 28th, 2009, 10:21 AM
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Cholmondley - LOL. I love your description of London right before Christmas. Every year I've said that malls and god forbid, Walmart, make me slightly homicidal from early November to January but I'll have to remember your description.

I was actually avoiding planning anything for New Years, other than staying in. I have little patience for drunks and that seems like all you see on New Years Eve, no matter where you are.

Loch Ness is probably out for this trip, but who knows, I change my mind on an hourly basis!

Is all of London nutso before Christmas, or is it just the shopping areas? If I want to go back to the Tower, the museums, etc, will I run into huge masses of people or will they all be busy shopping for last second presents? I'll know not to plan on anything being open on Christmas, and I'll check schedules for the following day. Do the tubes run on Christmas and the 26th?

Thanks for all of the advice!
Iowa_Redhead is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 06:26 AM
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The tourist places are probably quieter than usual. although it is a school holiday. What is really bad is that you won't be able to get a table in a restaurant that doesn't have an office party going on - and if you've ever seen the English drink you'll know what this is likely to be like) the same applies to pubs and all other entertainments. If you like watching secretaries being sick, then this is the time to come!

The shops will be packed tighter than animal welfare regulations would allow.

The tubes run on the 26th, the trains don't.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Mar 29th, 2009, 09:11 AM
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One of the weirdest things about New York to us is that people seen to come into town before Christmas, and then wander round the place gawping. Oddly, I've never noticed any corresponding increase in crowds at the Metropolitan Museum or the New York Historical Society: staring at people ice-skating seems to be the big thing.

We don't do that here. Some shops here get more crowded in the two weeks before Xmas, as do lots of eating and drinking places (though only those geared to large numbers of people getting rat-arsed together at the same time), as CW says. Nothing else usually does, really, though sometimes when the pound's really low, there's a period round St Nicholas' Day and in the week before Xmas when there's bit of a surge of Continental tourists. British school parties being dragged round museums and art galleries, increasingly the bane of ordinary decent tourists during school terms, fade off a bit in the two weeks before Christmas

Usually, though, if your plans are mainly about the Tower of London et al, pre-Xmas is a fine time to visit London. CW is perpetually auditioning for the role of Scrooge in the Met panto, and you should disregard his moans as just psyching himself up. They've just introduced Method-style classes for aspirant actors, and he's never got over it.
flanneruk is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 04:39 AM
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No. Christmas in London is beastly. End of.
Cholmondley_Warner is offline  
Mar 30th, 2009, 07:06 PM
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Thank you for all of the advice and help. I'm sure I'll beg for more assistance as I get closer to traveling. I'm stuck traveling mid-December to New Years because I get 6 or 7 days off of work without taking any vacation time. I can't swing a 3 week vacation at any other time of the year just yet.

I've more or less (hah, give me a day or two and I'll change my mind again) decided to join a Cosmos tour through Egypt until 12/23, then hit London and that area until 12/31 or so. This will give me a couple days to get un-jetlagged before I have to start working again. There's nothing worse than coming down from a travel high and working a 50+ hour week at the same time.

Thanks again!
Iowa_Redhead is offline  

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